Clare Harris

+44 (0)1223 785289 ceharris@greenwoodsgrm.co.uk

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The dangers of DIY Wills

Wealth Preservation / 03 March 2021

A recent case has highlighted the dangers of relying on a DIY or homemade Will. There are a number of issues that can arise from not seeking appropriate advice when preparing what will be one of the most important documents you will ever sign. Some of the most common issues include:

  • You may exclude children from your Will and not know the true consequence of this decision
  • Your Will may not be legally valid – was it witnessed and signed correctly?
  • You have minor children but no guardian has been appointed to look after your children in the event of your death
  • You may ask your spouse to witness your Will when they are due to inherit under the Will causing any gift to them to fail
  • You may leave unknown gaps in the distribution of your assets which will lead to your Will being partially intestate and those assets potentially not passing to the beneficiaries you intended
  • Your Will may not be tax efficient

In the case of the Tibbles family, Terri along with her four siblings, expected to inherit their father William’s £300,000 estate when he passed away. But a year before his death, William wrote a letter accompanying his Will, saying that he’d been disappointed in his children, Terri and her other siblings Kelly, Susan and Cindy. William also said that his son, Paul, was financially secure and therefore did not need to inherit the money.

However, three days after William died, solicitors were handed a scribbled a note which had been “torn from a notebook”, disinheriting Terri alone, leaving her brothers and sisters to benefit.

In court, she insisted that the note could have been signed by anyone and that there had been no reasons for her father to have changed his Will as they had a close relationship.

The Judge in the High Court agreed, ruling that the second Will was not valid and that as a result, Terri was to inherit her father’s entire estate. In fact, the judge said that the opinion of a handwriting expert witness had been crucial and that there was moderate to strong evidence that Terri’s father was not responsible for the signing of the Will.

With the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, you may think writing your own Will is the best and safest way to record your wishes. You may also believe that a homemade Will is more cost efficient. However, DIY Wills are rarely the best approach and you could be creating a number of issues that will only come to light following your death.

 

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This update is for general purposes and guidance only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. You should seek legal advice before relying on its content. For advice, get in touch with your usual Greenwoods GRM contact or scroll down to complete our enquiry form.

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